Media Release

ACT Government’s last-minute ‘fix’ reveals the anti-conversion bill agenda

The Sexual and Gender Identity Conversion Practices Bill 2020 is a dangerous and heavy-handed bill that will make criminals out of law-abiding Canberrans, particularly loving parents who raise their children according to traditional and biological perspectives.

Today the government will attempt to pass the highly controversial bill in the final sitting hours before the October election.

“The ACT Law Society has joined the chorus of criticism, pointing out that the definition of ‘sexuality or gender identity conversion practice’ is simply too broad and vague to be a proper basis for a proposed criminal offence,” ACL spokesperson Dan Flynn said this morning.

“In the face of community uproar, the ACT government has cobbled together a clumsy amendment that increases the ambiguity of the Bill and makes it more dangerous.

“The Government proposes to attach a note to clarify that a ‘mere expression of a religious tenet or belief’ will not be a banned conversion therapy practice.

“Fundamental human rights protect more than mere expressions of beliefs,” Mr Flynn added. “They guarantee the freedom to teach and counsel adherence to those beliefs; they protect the family, their privacy and right to raise their children according to their beliefs.”

“This ill-conceived amendment implies that expressing those important rights may be criminal acts.

“Parents who raise their children in accordance with their moral and ethical beliefs about sexuality and gender may become criminals. A faith leader who encourages their followers to live by long-held religious tenets on sexuality may become a criminal.

“The amendment makes the Bill worse. It is a superficial effort to pacify rightly horrified parents, teachers and religious communities. A massive 72% of Canberrans do not support laws that will make it illegal for parents to say or do anything less than agreeing and supporting a child’s wish to change gender, according to a recent survey.

“The ACL asks that the Legislative Assembly reject the bill or delay its rushed passage until its unintended consequences can be fully addressed.”


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